Chicken Little once famously declared “THE SKY IS FALLING!” Of course, he (she?) was wrong–it was an acorn. Sadly, Chicken Little terrified his barnyard companions until they sought shelter in a fox’s den. Only the unfortunately named Cocky Locky survived. The lesson? It was a freakin’ acorn, you moron. Now, Ducky Lucky, Henny Penny and the rest of your friends are dead meat–literally.
We can all agree that Chicken Little was a damn moron. Plus, he was a chicken. Chickens are filthy and disgusting. Why the hell would the other animals listen to one of them, anyway? Now, you probably think I don’t eat chickens, but I do. Why? Because I want to. They’d eat me if they could. Where was I? Oh, yeah, Chicken Little.
(By the way, I have an idea for a post about chickens. I’m not sure the public is ready for it.)
We Americans have much in common with Chicken Little. I’m not saying we wallow in our own filth and stink like hell, although some of us surely do. We do, however, get hit with the proverbial acorn and then scurry about the national barnyard in a panic.
Our latest acorn is the Boston Marathon Bombing. Here’s what we know (or think we know): Two brothers born in the Caucasus region of Russia are alleged to have detonated homemade bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. One of them is dead and the other is hospitalized. Since these two were identified, here are just a few of the things I’ve heard from folks, most of whom I consider intelligent (my comments are in red) :
- These guys should have been sent back to Chechnya. First, Chechnya isn’t a country. Second, when would we have sent them back? One of them has been in the U.S. since he was 8 years old.
- The FBI had been asked to check out the older brother. It’s the FBI’s fault. How do we know the FBI didn’t check him out? There’s no law against being sketchy.
- Pressure cookers aren’t designed to be used as bombs. No shit? All this time, I thought KFC was a terrorist front.
- All terrorists are Arab. Ahem, Chechnya is not an Arab region.
- All terrorists are Muslims. Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Eric Rudolph, Ted Kaczynski–Not Muslims.
- Muslims are dangerous and should be watched. Some are. So are some Christians, Jews and atheists. There are 2.5 million Muslims in the U.S. If they were ALL terrorists, don’t you think we’d notice the constant terrorist attacks? The last time we demonized an entire group of people, we put them in interment camps. No one looks back at that with pride.
- No one is safe!! Technically, that’s true. The U.S. has 15,000 or so homicides a year. You can’t really call that being “safe,” but it begs a question: If terrorists are responsible for three of those, who’s killing the other 14,997?
- We can’t try these terrorists in civilian courts. Why not? We have a great and fair legal system. It affords the accused many rights but also arms the government with ample resources to prosecute crimes. We become outraged if American citizens aren’t afforded these same rights when accused of crimes in other countries.
Here’s what appears to have happened in Boston. Two followers of some radicalized version of Islam took it upon themselves to build homemade bombs and blow up people. They succeeded. The Muslims in our country aren’t all banded together to destroy our way of life. Relax, Chicken Little.
These weren’t criminal geniuses. They learned to make bombs on the Internet. You can, too. You can also get helpful advice from a book called The Anarchist Cookbook. It wasn’t even written by a Muslim. It was published in 1971. My brother owned a copy.
We also have acorns bouncing off our heads over gun control:
- People don’t need ANY guns. Perhaps that’s true, but it’s irrelevant. The U.S. Constitution protects the right to own guns.
- You’re wrong! The Constitution only allows a “well-regulated militia” to own guns. No, I’m right. At least that’s the U.S. Supreme Court says.
- I must have a gun to protect my family. Where exactly do you live? I’d like to know so I don’t move there.
- I must have a gun to protect myself against the government. Which one? If you mean the U.S. government, good luck with that. Have you seen the firepower of the U.S. government?
- Well, I have other good reasons to own a gun. You well may, but here’s the deal: You don’t need a reason. You can own one just because you like guns. Hell, you can even own one for the sole purpose of wanting to shoot someone with it.
- The Second Amendment is bad. Let’s get rid of it. Interesting take, but here’s your problem–and it’s a big one–it’s very difficult to amend the Constitution. That’s a good thing. It keeps us from tearing it apart with knee jerk reactions. If you can’t get a few guns law passed, your chances of amending the Constitution are less than nil. Move on to something that’s at least possible.
- Expanded background checks are the beginning of a police state. No, they aren’t. If that’s true, let’s just get rid of ALL background checks.
- If we pass new gun laws, the government will come and take our guns. The only way that can happen is if the government decides to ignore the Second Amendment and a host of other Constitutional rights. If that happens, a few new gun laws will be the least of our problems.
- We don’t need new gun laws, because criminals won’t obey them. That’s probably true. Law-abiding citizens obey the law, and criminals don’t. That axiom applies to all laws.
- Guns don’t kill people. Again, that’s true. It’s also true that Sarin gas, rocket launchers, grenades and flamethrowers don’t kill people, either. You need a better argument.
The truth is that a few new gun laws won’t hurt us. Who knows? They might even help. I doubt we’ll find out any time soon. My advice? Relax. We have a violent country full of people who like to hunt humans for sport. If you’re one of them, you’ll still be able to get a gun. If you’re a law-abiding citizen, you’ll also be able to get one. If you’re on the other side of the debate, think of this: If you’re right and over 90% of the public wants stricter laws, there will be political backlash. Count on it. Relax.
Bombs and guns. Terrorists and criminals. Law-abiding citizens and victims. Black and white. Acorns and the end. We live in a world now where we can get real-time news reports. During the pursuit of the Boston bombers, you could follow it almost moment-by-moment on Twitter. The news of the world in 140 characters. That’s how we think now. We hear something, and it requires an immediate response. There’s no time to think.
Perhaps this is why there is a visceral reaction to everything now. We color it black or white. I suppose a lot of things are black or white, but those aren’t colors. There are a lot of colors out there. Take a look at the world and you’ll see them. The same thing applies to the big issues of the day. Maybe they’re black and white. Maybe not. It’s at least worth looking at them long enough to tell.
We are an odd people. Most of us, regardless of political leaning, are proud Americans. We love our Constitution and cherish our rights. But, when we thinking the sky is falling, we’ll gladly give up those rights in order to assuage our fears. Could it be that this is the reason that people–whether terrorists, politicians or our friends–try to scare us with the black and white of the world? Maybe the fox tossed that acorn at Chicken Little.
Now, back to acorns. An acorn hit my head once. It hurt–a lot more than you’d expect. It actually raised a knot on my head. So, I’m not saying that terrorist attacks and gun control aren’t painful topics. They are. Just don’t confuse them with a hunk of the sky. The fox awaits.